Frustration with state government over education funding reform has led to the call for a higher sales tax in Champaign County. The county's 14 school boards promise local property tax relief if voters approve a one-percent hike in the county's sales tax. As AM 580's Tom Rogers reports, it's generated some uneasiness - even among some people who say schools need more money.
Illinois Public Media News
Rural America has seen an exodus of residents and businesses for decades. But now it's evolving into a garden spot for entrepreneurs. Many don't have much of a choice - jobs in large companies or farms are drying up, and self-employment helps pay the bills. Still others (like Becky and Freddy Smith, left) get into business for love of their communities - they're helping small-town storefronts spring back to life. What can government do to help them out? AM 580's Tom Rogers reports on the challenges these rural entrepreneurs face, and what the presidential candidates want to do about it.
AM 580 is joining with public radio stations across the country to look into how the Presidential race impacts rural residents.
The debate over alternate energy sources like wind and solar power is not only aimed at reducing dependence on natural resources like coal and natural gas. Driving cars and using other machines rely more on these sources. While John McCain stresses greater production of oil, and nuclear energy, Barack Obama speaks more of using alternates. One getting a lot of attention in recent years is ethanol. But lately, supply and demand have hurt the development of new facilities that produce it. AM 580's Jeff Bossert looks at how the state of the industry is affecting two rural Central Illinois towns and what the presidential candidates' energy policies could mean for their future.
Bill Hammack has been doing a lot of thinking about east-central Illinois' water supply. You may know him as WILL's "Engineer Guy," bringing complex scientific issues closer to home. All this week, Bill is taking a look at how we use water, how much we have and how we manage it for the future. The different ways we use water at home may seem obvious - but in Part 4, Bill finds some ways we may never have suspected.
In small towns across the country, many people have decided that a cheaper way to get around is to leave the car in the garage and pile into the golf cart. Golf carts and other small slow-speed vehicles are becoming more appealing to people living in areas where traffic is low, but gas prices are high. In Illinois, several small towns are allowing golf carts on their streets --- while others are holding back. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
One of Illinois' smallest hospitals wants to expand and offer new services over the next few years. But the chief executive officer of John and Mary Kirby Hospital in Monticello says to do that, they'll need a brand new hospital at a brand new location. AM 580's Tom Rogers talked to him.
The Mortgage Bankers Association says of all the homes in the country, nearly 2 1/2 percent of them are in foreclosure. Illinois's foreclosure rate is even higher --- the 7th highest in the nation. Home foreclosures also appear to be on the rise in the Champaign-Urbana area. But as AM 580's Jim Meadows reports, it may not have reached the crisis level ... yet.
The Champaign County Board is discussing recommendations from a consultant for improving finances at the Champaign County Nursing Home. County officials say they understand that they have to act quickly and decisively to fix the nursing home's precarious finances. But even with those changes, many are saying that more tax money will be needed to balance the books. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
Eating organic food is not only considered healthy -- some companies believe selling it can be very profitable. Once limited to farmers' markets and small shops, organic food is now sold by some of America's largest companies. Organic milk, meat, fruits and vegetables are earning some retailers millions of dollars, others a lot less. AM 580's Terrell Starr talked with retailers of all sizes to discuss the competitiveness of this growing industry.
August 31 was the last day of production at the three Collins and Aikman auto parts plants in Rantoul. If anyone returns to work at the buildings, it will be for a different company that might move in. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke to a few of the 500 employees about their final week of work and their prospects for the future.